How much are we responsible for others around us
My question is that to what extent is an individual responsible for his/her surroundings?
To what extent am I to instruct those around me? Especially when I do not know much myself. To what extent am I responsible for the conduct of my family? Circle of friends? University? The dorms I live in?
There is obviously a lot of wrong and ungodliness happening everywhere. drugs, sex, pornography, alcohol etc so what am I supposed to do? To what extent will I be held accountable for those around me?
My first impulse would be to save myself rather then think about others. But I know Allah doesn’t want us to be this selfish.
What should then be the best strategy?
Also there is such diversity within families, e.g. the father figure might be a scholar/religiously inclined but his children could be at opposite poles as far as religion is concerned. Does this point out towards how ineffective the message is or how ineffective and dubious the scholar is?
You are indeed responsible for nobody else’s faith or actions except yours. The Quran says
“O believers! You are accountable for none but for yourselves; anyone who has gone astray cannot harm you if you are on the Right Way. To Allah you shall all return and He will let you know the truth of all that you did.” (5:105)
However, a part of the accountability you will go through will entail your attitude towards others, especially those who were close to you. The Quran mentions the following conditions for those whom salvation has been guaranteed in the hereafter:
“By the time through the ages! Surely mankind is in loss, except those who believe and do good deeds; exhort one another to the truth and exhort one another to patience.” (103)
However, your responsibility is only to the extent of letting others know of what the right path is. Changing others is neither your responsibility nor was it that of the prophets:
“O Prophet, you cannot give guidance to whom you wish, it is Allah Who gives guidance to whom He pleases, and He is quite aware of those who are to be guided.” (28:56)
If a scholar hasn’t been able to influence his family, it is most certainly not the failure of the message. It may or may not be the failure of the scholar, depending upon how well he tried to influence his family. Let’s not forget that the best of men, the prophets of Allah, in some cases, were not able to influence their close relatives. Of course it was none of their faults. The reason why it so happens is that this worldly life is a trial wherein everyone is being tested in a way that he/she has been given freedom of choice to exercise. Those who make the right choices succeed; those who don’t fail. Had Allah willed, He could have forced everyone to belive, but that would have defeated the purpose of this life. He wanted this life to be a testing ground to choose those who deserve to enter the paradise. For that purpose, freedom of choice was an essential element of the trial. That’s what causes it to happen that a good father some times has a bad son and vice versa.